Mother Nature reared its ugly head Monday at the Stadium of Champions as University Heights Academy girls’ soccer took on Webster County in the opening round of the 2nd Region Tournament. Water splashed beneath the cleats of players throughout the match until UHA’s Lilly Strader scored on a penalty kick with five minutes left to make it 11-1, triggering the mercy rule into effect and sending the Lady Blazers to the next round.
Despite being held without a single goal scored through the first 30 minutes of the contest, Strader broke loose in the final 50 minutes of the match and ended up with six goals on the night.
University Heights Academy girls’ soccer coach Michael Parker discussed the performance of his stellar senior after the game.
“She’s just fantastic and was all over the field,” Parker raved. “If we can feed her the ball into feet, she can beat a player and hit it. She can finish with both feet and she’s been doing that for us for four years so I don’t want to say I’m surprised. Obviously it’s a special performance in the regional tournament, but it’s not unheard of from her.”
The Lady Blazers failed to convert on five corner kick opportunities in the first half. Parker believed it was eventually just a matter of time before his club started to find the back of the net.
“I thought that their goalie made some really good saves early,” Parker said. “I thought if we could just shoot to the corner instead of down the middle we could get some goals. Once we got the first one in the second half it seemed like we just couldn’t miss after that.”
UHA goalkeeper Lainey Burman was elected to come on to attempt a penalty kick with 15 minutes remaining in the match. The junior knocked it through, extending the Lady Blazer lead to 8-1.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Lady Trojans as their freshman forward Brooklyn Conrad scored a goal just five minutes into the second half. Despite allowing 11 total goals, Webster county goalkeeper Kira Cavanaugh made some impressive stops and finished the match with 21 saves.
The last time UHA faced Webster County was in 2014 when the Lady Blazers picked up a 6-1 regular season road win.
University Heights Academy (12-6, 5-0) plays Caldwell County at 5:30 p.m. today in the 2nd Region tournament semifinals at the Stadium of Champions.